By Dr Carole Gilling-Smith, CEO and Medical Director of The Agora Clinic; My Surrogacy Journey Advisory Board Consultant Fertility expert, HIV, Trans & Fertility Preservation expert.
The brain child of three incredible people, Mike and Wes Johnson-Ellis and Francesca Steyn, My Surrogacy Journey brings together for the first time a multi-facet board of experts and educational resources to ensure intended parents, surrogates, donors and their families are fully supported throughout their journey from start to finish.
The concept is all the more beautiful by its sheer simplicity. Bringing together under one ‘virtual roof’ all the educational material, expertise and emotional support a person embarking on a surrogacy journey, whatever part they are playing in it, might need. And we know the journey can be a very long one, many years for some, with uncertainty and more than a few bumps along the road.
For my part, I am incredibly honoured to be on the Advisory Board as the My Surrogacy Journey Medical Expert.
I have helped many become parents over my career but have come to recognise that I play but a small hand in the complex process of helping intended parents achieve their dream of a family when surrogacy is involved.
We’ve known Carole for a few years and always admired her commitment to the Fertility sector, especially towards the LGBTQ community.
Her genuine authenticity to want to help, support and more importantly pave an inclusive route to parenthood, no matter your gender or sexual orientation.
Having Carole on board was the easiest decision to make. We’re very excited for the arrival of My Surrogacy Journey, and Carole’s addition, her beliefs and values are perfectly aligned to our own, roll on 2021.
Michael and Wes, TwoDads UK
Surrogacy at the Agora
As a fertility specialist, I am often the first point of contact for an intended parent, egg donor or surrogate. I have to admit that advising and treating those patients who are to be part of a surrogacy pathway is without a shadow of doubt the most complex work I do.
It is also the most demanding of my clinical team of nurses, embryologists and front line staff. I would add that it is also incredibly rewarding too, for all of us. Aside from the legal and regulatory aspects, much of the complexity lies in the fact that there are many different pathways and options to consider, everyone involved must play their part and honour their commitment to the end, the financial burden can be very high and unclear at the outset, known donors and surrogates are in short supply especially in the UK and the long journey can take its emotional toll on everyone involved. It is no wonder that those wishing to create a family through surrogacy often feel overwhelmed and confused as they start out and don’t know who to ask, let alone what to ask.
I spend a great deal of time with my patients explaining the clinical aspects of their journey, whatever that might be; what the IVF process might look like, how sperm is frozen, how embryos are created and replaced in a surrogate, what might go wrong, the chances of success and so on.
But I am mindful that I am only the expert in my own field which is why I always have to signpost my patients to other experts such as legal advisers, counsellors, surrogacy agencies and other key support services such as TwoDads UK. And beyond the fertility clinic, when a pregnancy has been confirmed, there is still a wealth of advice and support needed until the baby is born.
No single fertility clinic, regulator or surrogacy agency has ever been able to provide all those experts in one place, with all the answers to all the questions; nor the level of support and expertise required to carry patients all the way through to the delivery of their baby and beyond. By pulling everything together under the one virtual hub of expertise, moving forward I feel that as a fertility expert I will only need only one signpost, My Surrogacy Journey.
Thank you Mike and Wes, parents of Talulah and Duke through surrogacy and Founders of TwoDads UK, for having the vision to see what was needed and making it happen. Thank you Francesca for bringing your own incredible experience as a Fertility Nurse involved in surrogacy and egg donation to guide this project to completion.
What is most incredible for me, and why I am so honoured and excited to be a part of this concept, is that My Surrogacy Journey is a non-for profit organisation that puts the welfare of both our patients and their future child or children absolutely at the forefront.